by Amber Keiper
The Irish are known for many things: delicious corned beef and cabbage, Guinness beer, leprechauns and four leafed clovers. But did you know that the Irish are also known for their magnificent dog breeds?
Here are a few breeds that originate from the great island of Ireland and some neat facts about them:
Glen of Imaal Terrier: Though this particular breed makes a great companion dog, they can easily be trained to hunt badgers, foxes and even mice. This breed makes a perfect family pet but can be aggressive and stubborn at times.
Irish Red & White Setter: A distinctly different breed than the Irish Setter, the Irish Red & White Setter is thought to be the oldest breed of setters. She is intelligent, athletic and courageous – all perfect characteristics for a field dog.
Irish Setter: A relative of the English setter this breed is known for their glamorous mahogany red coat. Makes a perfect hunting dog as he is easily able to adapt to a variety of climates and terrain.
Pam Talley’s BARF dog, Clancy, was a gorgeous Irish Setter. The Irish Setter breed is known for it’s distinct solid red coat.
Irish Terrier: This breed is over two thousand years old and a close relative to the wirehaired fox terrier. Nicknamed the “little daredevil” this breed is known for her extraordinary courage and is commonly trained to hunt, retrieve and even relay messages during times of war.
Irish Water Spaniel: Thought to be a cross between a poodle and Irish setter, this cheerfully obedient breed is bright and easily trained to aid the avid bird hunter. Unfortunately his curly coat is a handful to maintain but when done properly makes for a magnificent looking dog.
Irish Wolfhound: Originally used to hunt wolves by the Celtics, this breed was later brought to Ireland by the Romans where it was influenced by the Great Dane and deerhound breeds. Makes a wonderful companion dog though he does tend to favor a single master. Well suited as a hunting dog or guard dog but does need a great deal of space to run.
As you can see from the picture above, the Irish Wolfhound is a large breed dog reaching heights of at least 31-35 inches and weighing over 119 lbs.
Kerry Beagle: One of the oldest native Irish breeds, the Kerry beagle is thought to be a descendant of the Celtic Hound. The Kerry beagle is commonly used for hunting and scent tracking though she also makes a wonderful pet. One thing to consider is that she requires constant exercise – regular walks two to three times a day is a must.
Kerry Blue Terrier (Irish Blue Terrier): A cross between the Irish terrier and the Dandie Dinmont, the Kerry Blue Terrier was developed by Irish shepherds during the 1700’s. The Kerry blue has become the symbol of Ireland. Though a bit stubborn, this breed is trainable to become a loyal part of the family. Often used as a hunting dog, retriever, guard dog, mouser, and police canine.
Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier: A strong yet graceful dog, the soft-coated wheaten terrier is known to be a truly versatile dog and is used as a guard dog, herding dog, and hunting dog. Fully adaptable, he is happy indoors or outdoors and makes a great family companion.
As you can see, Ireland is blessed with so many breeds of dogs that it would be difficult to choose a favorite. It’s quite amazing that the Irish have so many different types of dogs on such a small island, all with varied personalities, uses and characteristics. No wonder the Irish are such great dog lovers!
Amber Keiper is the Marketing Assistant and Raw Diet Educator for BARF World Inc.. She and her husband have two former rescue animals that are now healthy and proud “BARF brats” – a terrier mix named Chewbacca (“Chewy”) and a tabby mix named Chiquita (“Chiqui”). For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for The Intelligent Pet monthly e-zine at www.barfworld.com.